A FAMILY of five who returned to Scotland almost two years ago after the father’s elderly parents’ health started to fail faces being split up after the Home Office refused his Australian wife permission to stay here.

Chris and Evelyn Phillips have been married for 19 years and have three children – Lily, 17, who was born in Livingston, 14-year-old Taylor and Scarlet, 10, who were born in Australia but hold dual UK-Australian citizenship.

They returned to Scotland after 14 years in Australia and Chris even relocated his tattoo studio to Glasgow. But the Home Office has refused to allow Evelyn to stay – a ruling that is now the subject of an appeal.

Chris told The National it was a ridiculous situation: “I feel like I’ve come home to my home country and it’s not the Scotland that I knew when I left. My wife’s already been refused once by the Home Office – they’ve held on to her passport and she’s not been allowed to work for 14 months now. We’ve just had an appeal hearing and a judge scrutinised why we had returned to the UK and we’re waiting for a decision.

“I’m Scottish. I was born here, my eldest daughter was born here, we’re a legitimate family. We’ve been married 19 years and it’s ridiculous.

“I’ve been asked the question directly from a judge and had to bite my tongue while I answered. I was asked ‘why have I come back here?’

“I take offence at that because I’m Scottish, I’m a very patriotic Scot and I have pride in my nation, even though I’ve been away for a long time. I felt it was time to return home, as did the rest of my family.

“My wife and children were excited about that. Also my parents are elderly, my mum has gone into a care facility with dementia; my father’s elderly and he’s becoming immobile now and that was another catalyst for our decision to come home. Now here we are being told that Eve might have to leave and return to Australia.”

The family contacted The National after we highlighted two cases where families faced being split up because of Home Office rulings.

Lachlan Brain, a young Australian boy whose first language is Gaelic, could be deported along with his parents after the Home Office rejected their case to stay in Dingwall; and so could Mary Beard, a US citizen engaged to a Scot with whom she has a three-year-old daughter and a seven-year-old from a previous relationship. They are living in Spean Bridge, but she and the older child also face deportation.

Chris said: “The type of people Scotland needs – that caught my eye in your story and I can relate to that because I’ve come home after being away for 17 years. I’m looking at Scotland through an objective eye and I’m not liking what I’m seeing.

“I’ve moved my business from Australia as well which was a massive undertaking, but it’s now become established here, so we’re not trying to get our hands on public funds – I’ve never in my life accessed public funds.”

Evelyn added: “When my eldest daughter was born here in 1999, I had ‘indefinite leave to remain’ based on not claiming public funds and having a legitimate relationship.

“Sadly these are no longer the main requisites. The Home Office have refused my application to stay and allow either of two outcomes: for four British citizens to depart their country, or for a husband and wife of 19 years to separate, and a mother of three to leave her children behind.”

Ross, Skye and Lochaber MP Ian Blackford is seeking a meeting with the Immigration Minister James Brokenshire and has tabled an early day motion in the Commons, which is in recess this week.

Blackford told The National: “There are obviously more cases and thank goodness you’ve highlighted this because it is something that is happening because the Government’s immigration policies have completely failed.”

Of the Phillips case, he said: “It’s mad, crass and insensitive and is tearing apart the very families the Government claims to support. There’s no compassion or common decency in the immigration policies of the UK Government. What I’ve detected from many of the messages I’ve had and you’ve had is that people are furious about this and rightly so.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: "All applications are considered on their individual merits and in line with the immigration rules."

The family have set up a fundraiser at https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/celts-phillips along with a Facebook group for others in a similar predicament, which can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/242158776134880/